Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cooking!

So me and two of my sorority sisters who are veg*n decided to get together to experiment a bit with vegan cooking. Since I didn't know what they had and didn't want to run back to my house (which we ended up doing ANYWAY cus I forgot the nooch. D'OH!) I packed everything I could think of that maybe she wouldn't have.

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(In the cardboard box are my knives and a few things from the fridge like tahini, apple sauce, miso, etc.) As you'll see a lot of this is just spices and dried beans. Not exactly stuff you wont find in a 'regular' household, just never know what the recipe calls for--since we hadn't picked our recipes yet. (Notice the ton of books I had ready to choose from) In the end we just made seitan and tempeh. They were both good, and while the tempeh did disagree with me a bit--it definately wasn't half as hard on me as most soy products!

My friends helped me make chocolate covered banana lollies for a street-party potluck that was that evening, which we froze cus I feel like banana tastes like ice cream when frozen. They were a hit. Yummmmm. (I bought the chocolate from wal-mart, it was just a dark belgian chocolate which happened to be vegan. :D)

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OH! And my package from the vegan snack exchange I set up on the veggieboards arrived. WOW did my sender outdo herself! Thanks again missj5! For those interested join veggieboards.com. My blog there is 100% dedicated to the exchange so it will give you any info you might need to know about joining in in the future. I hope to make this something that happens once every 2 to 3 months.

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Oh, and here are some brownies I baked the other morning for a certain someone I was going to the zoo with. Me being all embarassed and shy I told him I baked them for my brother and just stole some for us. Lies. They came out kind of bad though, because I sort of winged it. I chopped up a bar of endangered species dark chocolate, added all of the cocoa powder I had left, sifted my regular whole wheat flour to get rid of the bran (but even so, it was obvious it wasn't a dessert flour. Oh well..) I liked it because while they were really chocolatey (and they were my first time using agave ever, which I found soo wonderfully sweet) they didn't HIT me, you know?

Brownies

From the exchange I brought the same certain someone a brownie and a cookie, and it got me a kiss, so thanks again missj5. Those brownies are sinfully fudgey though--nothing like mine. Lol, he thought I'd baked it at first and was saying how much better it was. He was probably a bit embarassed when I let him know that I didn't bake those, just the worse ones. ;) Its ok, I'm no baker.

Anyway, a lot of my energy and attention right now is on my assignment that I had 6 weeks to do and am just starting--due next Friday.

Upcoming is volunteering with the Toronto Vegetarian Association (veg.ca) at the Pride Parade on Sunday. Also, I have recieved permission from all the cookbooks but Very Vegetarian to publish some recipes for you all in my reviews--so look for that!

Wow.. I'm sorry! Here's how my trip went!

First of all I really really want to apologize for my lack of posting. I keep meaning to do it and managing not to. So here I am, DOING IT.

My trip went well, I met one of my best friends' Aunts and explored Kitchener/Waterloo. I bought some frames and a plate for plating at liquidation world, and a vegan cookbook for 99c at the Salvation Army! It's by The Big Carrot--a store I believe I mentioned in my blog before.

Anyway, I also went to this wonderful little spice shop one morning. It had EVERYTHING. Here's what I got (with the little cash I had on me..)

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Wasabi Peanuts!! These things were sooo addictive!!!

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So many recipes I want to try called for Keffir Lime Leaves so now I have them, and I'd remembered reading about zaatar. Zaatar definately had a GORGEOUS smell to it and I just had to have it. I later read its usually just mixed with oil as a dip... I decided to sprinkle some on some tomatoes, and eat it with some pumpernickel (which is my love affair, by the way.. luckily finding vegan loaves is doable even at my "No Frills" (a lower-end grocery store chain in Canada; better prices but usually less selection/quality)

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So yummy! I loved it.

We also went to a chinese market and tried some wierd fruit we couldn't find the name of. I believe it starts with an A. It had a texture like a mix between a kiwi and a pear, and it tased like raspberries and bananas and a LOT of Agave nectar!! (SO SWEET)

Unknown name of fruit

I also found some jackfruit in water, actually a few brands had them but this had the lowest sodium of them. I'm sure its available in TO (what isn't?) but I hadn't seen it yet, so I picked up a can. I would've gotten more but I had forgotten my wallet, and my friend's aunt treated me to it--but I didn't want to push it!

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I also stopped in on a nice little farmers market in Kitchener

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but most of the produce etc was too expensive for me--they did have some jewelry for a steal though, and I got some nice earrings and a bracelet.

When I was there I tried the choc-cherry bar I mentioned in my movie

Choc-Cherry Bar

It was pretty yummy!

Choc-Cherry Bar

It was moist and sweet--very chocolatey and dessert-like.


All in all a good trip! :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

LASTMINUTEROADTRIPWHOA!!!



Guys don't hate me. Its amateur and its unedited and it was done with my camera because my camcorder requires more than 10 minutes for me to figure out how it works. (I DO have a digital camcorder on that note, I just don't ever use it. ever.)

So yeah, if you hated how amateur this was.. HINT HINT help me edit the actual shows.

Thanks and wish me fun!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Money CAN Buy Me Love. (and why being friendly and talkative really DOES pay.)

Growing up I never really visited The Junction; an area of Dundas St. W quite near my home. Part of it was because I lived closer to Bloor West Village, and part of it was because it simply came off as run down. Since my childhood however it has slowly but surely been improving. Recently, the most noticable of these improvements has been quite relevant to me as three vegan friendly establishments opened; The Beet, The Sweet Potato, and Rawlicious.

In any case today my sister and I decided to go for a walk through there--part job-hunting part jus spending time together (which we do all too little nowaday.)

First we stopped into a used bookstore and of course I dart for the cooking section. To my surprise at least 20% of the cookbooks were vegetarian! I picked up a few of the vegan ones and wondered "hmm.. should I get these? They're so much cheaper than in store.. some of them you can't even find in Canada easily.." but my student wallet screamed with indignation and I sighed and left.

After we came across the showroom store for Lavishy--I was so excited; they had jewelry of all sorts--from shiney to shimmery to funky to cute; novelty items and tasteful items and quirky items all at a really good price. I got some watermelon earrings for $10 and a beaded ring and bracelet each for $5! They had some really gorgeous pleather wallets and I know once I get more money I'll be running back!

Anyway, once I got home all I could think about were those cookbooks. And then I thought--well, ok. So yes I'll end up spending maybe $50.00 to $60.00, but I usually would be spending $80 or $90 for the same books, and frankly--I'm going to be vegan for the rest of my life, so I can consider this my older, established self making an investment. Yes, that's right. I pretended I was a time traveller. How else do you reason with your wallet? It bought the argument well enough and I jettied off back to the store!

When I was there I decided to only get the ones with vegan advertised explicitly on the cover--there were raw "uncookbooks" and several vegetarian cookbooks that I believed were in fact vegan, but even so I could only afford so much. I put the three, mint-condition books I had quickly picked out on the desk of the store owners, which was an antique wooden desk littered with books, and as he started to write up my purchase in his little notebook we chatted. He asked if I was vegan and I said yes, and told him a little bit about the monetary dilemma I had in order to explain why I hadn't just bought these earlier. I also explained that I was a time traveller. Only without those exact words, perhaps. We spoke of some restaurants in the area and just this and that as I flipped through the other cookbooks available to me to see if any really stood out--but my wallet, time traveller or not, was beginning to moan so I decided it was time to pay.

The owner looked at my purchase and said "You know what? I want to cut you some slack--you're a student and I get that. I'm going to give you a small discount." I was so happy--I figured he'd take maybe two or three dollars off the total... in fact? He took a couple dollars off each book!

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The Voluptuous Vegan, priced $27.50CAD on the spine he was selling in store for 12.99--he gave it to me for 10.99. Fresh & Fast Vegan Pleasures, priced $24.00CAD he was selling in store for 10.99, and sold it to me for 9.99! Finally, Very Vegetarian, priced $27.99CAD he had up for 16.99 and sold it to me for 14.99! Altogether, after tax, my bill was $37.77CAD--for three huge mint condition vegan cookbooks that would have been $90.61 at regular price--not to mention possible shipping!! (Foods that don't bite back I actually got for five bucks at Chapters in the clearance bin. Chapters is like the Canadian version of Borders.)

I have already flipped through them and am so impressed by these books--they're truly gems!! My plan is to give a review of each of them, after cooking a few of their dishes and reading through them more carefully--so look for that!

Other things that are upcoming: I have recieved some encouragement to work on that show now that its the summer and have decided I will most definately do so. I'm practicing these days making salads and stuff on camera to just get used to speaking to a camcorder. I have no video editing skills AT ALL and if anyone wants to jump up and say "I CAN DO THAT" then we really *can* get this show on the road. If not.. well.. I'll try and get at least one up by the end of the summer...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Episode: Mint

Quinoa and Pea Salad

Buying fresh mint + thunderstorm = recipes. And food porn. And goodness. (Although the thunderstorm does get in the way of proper lighting, so apologies for any slight decrease in photo quality. I think I managed to get a few good ones despite.)

I believe all the essentials have been said, so let the food post begin!

Quinoa and Pea Salad with Mint and Lemon

This salad has enough substance that you can eat it as a main dish, but is cool and refreshing to help you stay feeling light in the summer heat. This recipe makes 4-6 main servings, or 8-10 as a side.

Quinoa and Pea Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa
water (enough to cook quinoa, at least 2 cups)
1 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh mint
1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper

Preparation:

Cook the quinoa by boiling it in the water until they look like miniature Saturns (little balls with rings around them)--drain well and put back in the pot, stirring with a fork to help fluff it up as it dries out.

Take the frozen peas and add it in to the quinoa once the quinoa is dry (but still warm)--this will defrost the peas and gently soften them without actually cooking them. Add in the mint and squeeze the lemon half till you feel you've gotten 1/2 to 2/3 of the juice in it. (So the juice of 1/4 to 1/3 of a lemon) This is, obviously, to taste. Sprinkle in a little bit of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix and allow to completely cool before serving. (If you leave out the salt to make this low sodium, the recipe won't suffer much. :))


Summer Strawberries

What's more refreshing than strawberies, mint, and lemon on a hot summers day? Makes for four generous servings (or 8 smaller servings).

Summer Strawberries

Ingredients:

1.5 lb strawberries
1.5 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 to 3 tbsp dried blueberries
1/2 a lemon
1 tsp sweetener

Preparation:
Wash and slice the strawberries in half. (If they are really huge you can further cut them, but they really don't have to be even in size. What is optimal is to have them all of a size that can gracefully be put into the mouth and eaten.) Mix the mint, blueberries and sweetener with the juice of 1/3 to 1/2 of the lemon half and the zest of the lemon half. (So the juice of 1/6 to 1/4 of a lemon.) Mix well and allow to sit for the flavors to combine for at least 1/2 hour, preferably saran wrapped and refridgerated.

Summer Strawberries


Mint Milk


In the winter, as snow blizzards outside and the wind whistles at your windows you cuddle up with a warm cup of chocolate milk. Well now you can have that comfort year long--in the summer, as the rain pours outside and the thunder cracks in the distance you can cuddle up with a warm cup of mint milk.

This tea is warm and comforting. The almond milk thickens as it is heated and is infused with the soothing taste of mint. The mint is not overpowering but can be tasted clearly in the milk, and leaves you with a refreshing yet cozy aftertaste. The recipe makes for one serving.


Mint Milk

Ingredients:

Mint tea bag.
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp sweetener
a hint of nutmeg.*

Preparation:

Put everything into a pot and put the heat onto medium-low. Gently stir constantly to avoid scalding the milk. Stir for approximately 5 minutes; the milk sould be hot and a light matcha green color (like that of green tea ice cream). Serve hot.

*(No more than a scrape or two with your knife--on that note: always freshly grate nutmeg. I hated nutmeg until I started grating my own; now its the spice I will put in almost anything.)


Mint Tea


Mint tea aids in digestion, helps clear colds, and is just darn right comforting. How could I make a post on mint and leave out my go-to tea when my tummy is hurting or I'm feeling sick? No recipe, just get a mint teabag, boil the water, and steep. Alternatively; put the mint teabag into lukewarm water and allow it to sit for an hour before drinking, or even put it in cool water and allow it to sit overnight. I have been told that the cold/overnight method results in the best tea (plus it is then considered raw, I believe.)

Mint Tea


BONUS: Freezing Mint

Frozen Mint

If you're anything like me, an entire bunch of herbs bought at the grocery store is more than you could ever use in one recipe. So here's how I freeze the extra. I wash it and allow it to dry, or pat it dry. I take all the good leaves off the stem and spread them on a plate; make sure you don't have clumps of leaves and also try to avoid piling them too high. 2-3 high should be the maximum (you could even freeze them in a single layer, should you have enough freezer space). Once they're frozen you can put them in a ziplock bag; ready to be used. They will be defrosted enough to chop within minutes when you want to use them, assuming your freezer isn't deathly cold.

This method works well for any herb that is generally used raw, with only a rough chop. It works for cooking herbs too, however an easier method exists for those; wash them, pick what you would use of them, chop/dice/grind, and freeze them in an ice cube tray; half tablespoon per cube (or less, depending how many people you generally cook for. I usually cook for four.) Once frozen you can put these cubes into a ziplock bag, and when your recipe calls for a tablespoon of said herb, just grab two cubes (or the appropriate amount) and dump them in like that; no need to defrost.

After sleeping on it

I only slept a few hours last night, but after breakfast and properly waking up I felt so much better. I have come to one conclusion;

I am so thankful for my job. I am so thankful that I am trained and given the opportunity to help people like Simone who need me.

I really want to say thanks to hoodedclawjen from the VB (who, by the way, I will hopefully meet up with soon enough to have a vegan shindig)--she really helped me feel better.

What a day...

I'm a lifeguard and today a little four year old girl slipped and fell and hit her head. Her mom took her to me and I was first guard for the whole incident, as well as guard in charge (i.e. I took care of her first aid, and ordered the other two around.)... in the end everything was okay. She came back after going with EMS to the hospital and getting her head "glued" together (I'm thinking it must be like a fancy version of liquid skin--because they use "staples" for stitches, so glue must be for bandaids? Oh those emerg. doctors..) to talk to me and thank me and let me know she was ok and we had a good giggle about how wierd it is to get glued together. Her mom wrote me/my boss a two page letter thanking the staff, and me in particular as I was the only guard she really dealt with, for how we handled it all.

She left her address so I wanted to thank her for letting me know she was ok (definately made me feel a good bit better)

A pink giraffe

I wrote a thank you on the back to Simone (i.e. in language a four year old will get) and added: "I think this giraffe had one too many strawberry ice creams!"

((She was too young to know what day it was, or even her address. Some of my questions to assess her LOC included favourite animal (giraffe), favourite color (pink) and favourite ice cream flavor (strawberry)...))

As if the day wasn't crazy enough, when we finally re-opened the pool later on in the day I was first guard for another incident, but it was a minor and no real treatment was required other than some calming down and some speaking, and filling out yet another report.

So all is good right?

So why am I unable to eat, and I just keep thinking about it.. the amount of blood.. the smell.. talking to her.. the things I did wrong, the things I did right. I don't feel guilty--I got enough compliments from her mother, my coworkers, the patrons and even EMS that I know I did well. (And besides, she came back beaming and giggling--what more could I ask for?)

I'm tired but I can't sleep. My stomach is aching but I can't bring myself to eat... I want to talk to someone but I can't pick up the phone, I dont know what I'd say or how it would help. So I guess I posted here. The joy of the internet.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

SoyAge, by GranoVita

When I was in the Big Carrot (a store which I love, by the way..) I was glancing at the soy yogurt, as is habit (yogurt and eggs were the two things I had to give up going vegan, as you might have read previously.) and I saw these:

SoyAge

Despite my slight soy intolerance, I HAD to try them, thinking it might just be a brand of soy yogurt in Toronto that could begin to rival european soygurt (look ma I coined a term.) They had several flavors but eagerly I grabbed the two that seemed the most appealing and added them to my cart.

This morning I took one out for breakfast; hoping to have a creamy yogurt treat with its beautiful tang and tart flavor help me start my day. I was, unfortunately, dissapointed. That's not to say it wasn't good--it just wasn't yogurt at all. Once I got past my initial dissapointment I allowed myself to enjoy it; I don't know what to compare it to, other than it was a little creamy, very fruity, and had an interesting texture that was like a mixture between custard and jello. A very set pudding perhaps, or jam, but not as sweet. On the label as I read more closely, the main ingredients were fruit and soy was only 2% of the whole shebang. Well, even though it wasn't what I'd hoped for--at least my body wasn't going to suffer for it. (I doubt 3g of soy will cause me serious discomfort, but we'll see.)

SoyAge: Inside

SIDE STORY: I also saw vegan "chef-grade" puff pastry, vegan frozen pie crusts of all sorts (whole wheat, spelt, etc.), lots of vegan instant dinners/hors d'ouvres/etc, Kelp Caviar--all of which I'd be happy to review if someone is interested in knowing about them. I myself reasoned; I didn't buy these things as an omni, why would I buy them now?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Marg's Chickpea Salad

Oh Marg. How we all loved you, and yet how much you upset/annoyed us with your funny "one piece only" rules and incessant lectures. I personally appreciated it--well the rationing maybe not (you know we ended up eating a sandwich at the end of every meal to make up for the small portions... we're growing kids doing a lot of work, we need food..) but definately the "no cross-contamination" nazi-like strictness was almost essential to me. (Imagine if they took the meat spoon and used it to toss out peas..) And frankly, I liked your cooking so everyone else can complain all they like.

One thing though Marg, that was simply divine, was your chickpea salad. Everyone loved it. (Well, except for Brent, but he's got this wierd anti-chickpea thing going on. I blame it on the combination of his height and his [red] hair.) So Marg, this one's for you... (Marg actually sent me her recipe)

Marg's Chickpea salad

Chickpea Salad

1, 19 oz can chick peas
2 Tb chopped red onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 diced tomato
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 Tb oil*
2 Tb red wine or balsamic vinegar
1 Tb lemon juice
salt and pepper

Mix and let sit half hour to an hour before serving.


*I used this much oil, but doubled the chickpeas and most everything else. I also added a good handful of kalamata olives, chopped up and pitted of course.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Photos

Some photos I've found on my dads camera, when I was uploading them. (Thus the delay of June 3rds post..)

Seitan four ways

We sat down at the table for dim-sum at the chinese restaurant and lo and behold, first thing they offer us--seitan four ways! I was so happy yum yum yum. ^__^ We now are back to going to dimsum almost weekly--something I thought would never happen once I went vegan.


All ready for camp...

This didn't even last me the first week

Packing for camp! The "milk" only lasted me just over a week! Luckily we went into town and I bought some more! (I got the president's choice organics brand and its soo good!)


Lunch! Seitan and Salad

My lunch today. Salad with Sundried Tomato-Lemon-Basil Dressing. Seitan came out a bit funny this time, but still good. And of course, some trusty blueberry tea.


This meme I stole from Hannah over at BitterSweet

My creation

The concept:

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd's mosaic maker).

The Questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Day... 7?

Whoa.. a full week already? I was convinced I was on day 4 at the most!

Friday... I can't remember. Saturday I worked all day. Sunday we had a bunch of people over for a barbeque, and I made a chickpea salad, a sprout salad, and the salad I made last time once more. That raspberry dressing really is killer. I also noticed my toilet water is bright fuchsia. Maybe not something you want to hear about on a food blog, but I think its kind of funny. I refrained from buying beets today on that note.

Here are my beet/raspberry salad, and my sprout salad:

Beet Salad with Raspberry Dressing, take two

Sprouted Lentil Salad

Here's my chickpea salad; it wasn't amazing--I'd loosely followed a recipe I'd gotten from the camp I was at, cus that one was pretty awesome--and this one could've been better. I'll tweak it and post once I'm satisfied.

Chickpea Salad

And this salad was brought by the guests:

Mandarin and almond salad

I didn't try it though, as the dressing had honey--but this is definately an inspiring combo for another day!

I also made a pear-cranberry tart from VwaV but forgot to cover it with tinfoil for the first bit, so it was way too dry. :( I was bad and tried Natura maple soy ice cream (my first non-dairy soy ice cream ever)--it was so creamy and good. My stomach was like AHH STUPID afterwards.

Pear-Cranberry Tart

On Monday I went and did a bit of a photoshoot at the crack of dawn, so by 7am all we could think was cofffeeeeeeee. I wasn't even thinking and put a ton of soy milk in mine (though really there wasn't a good way around it unless I were to drink my coffee black. Dairy is not an option.) and my stomach was later on not so happy again.

Today has been blissfully soy-free, and I made a broccoli and black eyed pea salad:

Broccoli and Black Eyed Peas Salad